Tag Archives: transition

Interim report: ‘Building on the Maths Arcade: supporting mathematics learning’

Noel-Ann Bradshaw, project lead for Building on the Maths Arcade: supporting mathematics learning, has submitted the following as an interim report.

1. Introduction
This report details what has been done in terms of extending the provision of the Maths Arcade at the University of Greenwich in the 2011/12 academic year.

2. Training
At the end of last term (June 2011) I organised a staff training day for University of Greenwich Maths staff and PhD students. This was well attended by 10 staff and 5 PhD students.
There was a good dialogue between staff and students and several staff suggested games that could be purchased.
Staff were introduced to several of the games and saw the benefits for students in playing them. Unlike chess and Go most of them are quite short although are still good for strategic thinking.
A similar session has been planned for the Engineering staff at Medway on January 25th 2012. It was not possible to fix this date sooner as was originally planned as there has been a reorganisation of the School of Engineering. Several staff there are keen to have the session but finding a convenient time has been problematic.

3. Stock
Before term began in September we increased the stock of the Maths Arcade cupboard. Several new games were purchased and we have been able to use these with students. There are still other games that we want to buy and we will get student input when we make the next order.

4. Attendance
Attendance began well with an excellent first session. Subsequently attendance has not been as good as last year in terms of numbers but this first year is not as big so a smaller turnout should be expected. A detailed analysis of attendance will be carried out at the end of the year to see how this has compared with last year. A factor in this is that I no longer teach first year classes and so am not forging relationships with them and encouraging them to attend.

5. Impact
Whist not part of the HE STEM funding it is worth noting that this project is getting a lot of interest from other areas. Two departments in the Business School are running something similar. The School of Education is looking at rolling something similar out for maths ambassadors to use on school visits. Professor Liz Thomas (Edgehill) is writing up a case study on it for her latest publication.
It is also being rolled out in other Universities as part of another HE STEM project and provision, loosely based on our maths arcade, is being trialled at Nottingham and Bath.

6. Publications
Here is a list of publications that have been written about the maths arcade:

Bradshaw, N. (2011) The University of Greenwich Maths Arcade, MSOR Connections Vol 11 No 3 Autumn Term 2011, p26-9. http://mathstore.ac.uk/headocs/Connections_11_3_Bradshaw.pdf, accessed 8th December 2011.

Bradshaw, N., Lakin, S.,(2011) The Maths Café: a tool for nurturing the inquiring mind. Educational Development Unit, University of Greenwich, May. 2011. Available at: https://showtime.gre.ac.uk/index.php/edu/shift2011/paper/view/61. Date accessed: 23 Nov. 2011.

Carpenter, N. (2011) The University of Greenwich Maths Arcade – student view, MSOR Connections Vol 11 No 3 Autumn Term 2011, p26-9. http://mathstore.ac.uk/headocs/Connections_11_3_Bradshaw.pdf, accessed 8th December 2011.

An article on the Maths Arcade has been accepted, without revisions, for the next volume of the University of Greenwich Teaching and Learning Journal, Compass.

Bradshaw, N. (2011) How to set up a Maths Arcade. HE STEM South West. http://www.hestem-sw.org.uk/widening-participation/wp-projects/?p=9&pp=1232 accessed 21st January 2012.

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Preparedness for mathematics at university

Recently the National HE STEM Programme published ‘Mathematics at the Transition to University: A Multi-Stage Problem?‘, an essay by Michael Grove. This explores research into the preparedness of incoming university students (particularly from A Level) over the last 10+ years and points to some work being done by the Programme at the transition to university to address the underlying issues.

Last year I wrote a blog post over on my personal blog, ‘On the Decline of Mathematical Studies, and ever was it so’, which looked at a few historical reports and wondered whether this was  just a case of each generation thinking the next has declining standards. Having read Michael’s piece and interested that the problem may be being reported in the same way while the underlying cause is shifting, I wrote a follow-up blog post, ‘Shifting decline of mathematical preparedness?’, and recorded a segment for this weeks Pod Delusion.

The Pod Delusion is a weekly radio programme and podcast. On its website, it describes itself like this:

The Pod Delusion is a weekly news magazine radio programme and podcast about interesting things. From politics, to science to culture and philosophy, it’s commentary from a secular, rationalist, skeptical, somewhat lefty-liberal, sort of perspective. A bit like From Our Own Correspondent but with more jokes.

The segment I recorded is about six minutes from 38:30 in Pod Delusion episode 114.

On the subject of work the Programme is doing to support students at the transition from school to university, the Mathematical Sciences Strand (of which my project is a part) is supporting a network of sigma maths and stats support centres in England and Wales. The sigma centres at Coventry and Loughborough have jointly won the Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Student Support.